Saturday, February 26, 2011

Potatoes Fit For A Queen (Or A Duchess)

Here is a fantastic potato dish when you want to fancy up your dinner table with just a little extra effort.  Duchess Potatoes are basically mashed potatoes bound together with eggs and any extras that suit you, then piped onto a baking sheet and cooked until browned. The results are a creamy, tasty, and might I add, elegant addition to your plate. Give them a try sometime, you'll be glad you did.

Duchess Potatoes
(Makes 8, 2 inch diameter servings)

2 large baking potatoes
1 large egg
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp cream
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp finely grated, Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Peel and cut potatoes into 2-3 inch cubes. Boil in salted water until tender.  Let cool for 20 minutes.  Add the rest of ingredients and beat with electric mixer until very smooth.  Place potatoes in large heavy duty pastry bag, fitted with large star tip.  Pipe onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dulce De Leche Cookies

What a satisfying endeavor, baking cookies, and I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.  There is usually nothing to complicated about the process and the end results are so delicious.  A wonderful side effect is that the whole house smells great as the cookies bake. 
I have seen the recipe for these cookies on a few websites and they sounded so marvelous I had to try them.  I'm a sucker for anything that tastes of butterscotch or caramel and for those who don't know this product, dulce de leche is basically a caramelized condensed milk.  It is easily found in the Hispanic section of any grocery store in the town in which I live.  I also know that there are recipes on the Internet for making your own, but it takes hours and the thought of putting a unopened can of condensed milk in my oven to bake for a few hours is, quite frankly, a scary thought.  My oven is dirty enough without an exploded can of sticky sweet milk burning away!
These are meant to be a sandwich type cookie, but after trying one in that form, I found them to be just too rich so I opted to go with just a nice, thin single cookie.  They're great and will be added to my cookie repitoire.

Dulce De Leche Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup store-bought dulce de leche, plus more for filling
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until just softened and broken up a bit. Add the 3/4 cup dulce de leche, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix only until the flour is just incorporated. You may need to finish off the mixing with a big spatula.

Spoon the dough onto the lined baking sheets using a heaping teaspoon of dough for each cookie. The dough will be soft. Leave 2 inches of space between each cookie for the baking spread.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will be honey brown with a light crust, but still very soft when they come out of the oven. Let them rest on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing to cool.
Once the cookies are cooled completely, spread them with dulce de leche and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt if you like. Keep well wrapped for up to four days.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fairy Gingerbread

Isn't that a marvelous name for a cookie?  And these are marvelous cookies, indeed. Light as air yet they have a most potent double whammy punch of ginger flavor. They use fresh, grated ginger as well as lightly toasting ground, dried ginger.  When you take a bite, they literally melt in your mouth and then you can feel the warmth of the ginger spreading.  They are quite remarkable and quite addictive.  You've been forewarned!
This recipe came from the Cook's Illustrated folks other great cooking publication and show called Cook's Country. It takes rather old fashioned recipes they find from old cookbooks and other sources and modernize them for today's kitchens and cooks.  I am never disappointed with their recipes and this one will be a keeper.

Fairy Gingerbread

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
9 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger  (Using a rasp grater works very well)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare your cookie sheets. Spray the cookie sheets with cooking spray and cover with a sheet of parchment paper.
2. Heat the ground ginger in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Combine the flour, toasted ginger, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

4. Using a stand mixer beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, on medium-high speed.
5. Add fresh ginger and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

6. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with 2 additions of milk.
7. You are now ready to spread the batter evenly on the 2 prepared cookie sheets. Each sheet should have about 3/4 cup of batter. Do not fret if it looks like there is not a lot of batter on the sheet. These cookies should be really thin.

8. Bake until a deep golden brown, about 16 - 20 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. I baked it 16 minutes, but that felt a bit too long. Assess halfway through and determine how much more time you will need.

9. Once completely baked, take the cookie sheets out and score immediately using a chef's knife or a pizza cutter.
10. Once the cookies are cool, about 20 minutes, you can remove the cookies from the parchment. Go over scoring lines with the dull side of a paring knife and they should separate perfectly. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sandwich

Apparently there is some sort of big game on today.  I swear I didn't even know which teams were playing until this morning as I watched Sunday Morning on CBS.  I thought the Dallas Cowboys were playing because I kept hearing the Dallas Stadium was covered in snow (as is practically the whole USA).

Well, I'm not going to be called a party pooper and I decided to get into the spirit of the day and make a manwich, even though the chances of The Husband watching the entire game is slim to none.  He is known to sit through baseball game after baseball game and when his alum team, the Oregon State Beavers are playing football he will pay attention.  Thankfully though, his interest in pro football is near zero. 

We will most likely tune in for halftime entertainment, which again I learned, thanks to Sunday Morning on CBS, will be the Black Eyed Peas.  While watching these said Peas, we will eat our manwiches and pretend we care, like all good Americans do because afterall, isn't the Superbowl a truly American tradition?

My sandwich is made with the most delicious coldcuts out there, from Boar's Head, a 100 year old company out of New York City.  I first tried them while living in Seattle and use to buy it at the Pike Place Market at a wonderful Italian food shop called DeLaurenti's. Check it out next time you're in Seattle. Our local grocery store, Roth's, fortunately now carries these products.

I used an Italian bread, sprinkled olive oil and red wine vinegar over, spread on some olive tapenade, then layered mortadella, black forest ham, provolone, genoa salami and cheddar cheese.  Served with some chips, a slice of pickle, and a cold beer and we're ready for the game!